WAG undaunted by discrimination

Formed in 1983, Women’s Action Group was the first organisation to challenge the gender inequalities prevalent in the early eighties and 29 years later it is fighting a lot of the same battles.

Several operations have been carried out by the Zimbabwe Republic Police where women have been arrested for ‘loitering and soliciting for prostitution’.

WAG Director, Edinah Masiyiwa regrets the fact that the Government of National Unity formed in 2009 is failing to deal with the malaise of the arbitrary arrests.

“We feel cheated as an organisation that the coalition government is as guilty as the previous government. Soon after independence, police arrested women walking alone in the streets under ‘Operation Clean- up’ while men had the privilege to walk scot free,” she said.

“Our gains are being reversed by the current operations of law enforcement agents. We are particularly concerned that there are people who think that a woman’s space is in the home, kitchen or in the rural areas.”

She challenged the police and society for perpetuating the stigma that women were responsible for social ills such as prostitution.

“Sex work is a business that men are benefiting from, yet society wants to give the impression that women are doing this on their own,” she said.

Masiyiwa said WAG would continue to fight the unjust treatment of women and advocate for a gender-just nation. The organisation has broadened its programmatic approach and now focuses on three other areas: HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health and the prevention of gender-based violence.

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